Local Muslim leaders react to possible backlash

Posted at 8:19 AM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 08:19:09-05

There's a double standard in how people react to mass shootings, says the Islamic Center of East Lansing's Farhan Bhatti.

"When the mass murderer is brown-skinned, it's a suspected terrorist attack," Bhatti said. "But when the mass murderer is not brown-skinned, it's a mental health issue, or it's a lone wolf. It's anything but terrorism." Even in cases where the suspect is born and raised in the United States, like the attack in San Bernardino, Muslims are associated with terrorism, Bhatti said.

"Terrorism is not unique to people with foreign sounding names," he said.

Now, to combat the backlash he suspects will come from Wednesday's attack, he and other Muslims are trying to dispel misconceptions about Islam. "We are always reaching out to our neighbors, to our community members, to the media," Bhatti said. "Always looking for the opportunity to shout from the highest mountain about who we are and what we believe in."

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says he supports this effort and encourages all people to show the respect and love Lansing is capable of to the Muslims in the community.

"The more we're spreading that care and concern about our fellow man and woman," Bernero said. "Guess what, we're stomping out terrorism."